Jan 252008

Quack, Quack: Made-For-AdSense Spam

On Tuesday, we released a nifty little tool with a funny name: RKG Duck, a Windows Clipboard Filter.

By Thursday, an exact search on google for "RKG Duck", with the search phrase in quotes, brought back over 2000 results.

made for adsense2000 new pages in 48 hours! Boy, those webmasters must have burned the midnight oil generating valuable novel content about our software and...


Almost every one of those 2000 are the output of the scraper parasites built to exploit advertisers via Google's content network.

"MFA", or "Made For AdSense". Trash pages set up by spiders run by Bad Guys to rip off online advertisers.


Last year, a decidedly unscientific experiment suggested about 8% of all pages on the web are MFA trash. My intuition is that estimate was low then, and is wildly low now.

Because of the business model Google established, AdSense spam flourishes. Google's battle to keep Bad Guys out of content increases in difficulty every day.

Historically our agency has found the content networks weak, but interestingly we're seeing signs of some improvement from Google content clicks during the last quarter of 2007. We take that as evidence that Google's getting better at keeping trash sites out the content network.

We look forward to a future when when content click fraud vanishes, when advertiser-funded Google checks stop flowing to trash MFA publishers, and when spiders stop harassing our duck.

Quack, quack.

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4 Responses to "Quack, Quack: Made-For-AdSense Spam"
Zfreud says:
It continues to astound me the free pass that Google gets from the industry when it comes to how they manage Adsense. With one mouth they talk about their endless fight against SE spam and how much they do to combat it. With the other, they have setup a system that automatically approves tens of thousands of MFA sites that scrape other users copyrighted content. It is disingenous in the extreme and I really hope they are one day held liable in a court of law for this enabling of copyright theft from which they profit enormously. The way Google manages Adsense is akin to the way oil companies deal oil: they get rich polluting the web with garbage, all the while claiming they’re doing no evil. We need the press and the blogosphere to blow the lid off this racket.
The Web is still the proverbial Wild West, and freedom from governing bodies leads to both amazing innovation and a certain amount of chaos. I really don't see Google as the evil beneficiary here. I think it's darned difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, and I think Google that they would make more money on content if they eliminated fraud and provided a better value for the ad dollar. It seems to me that there are two fundamental divides online that aught to play a roll within Google's algorithm and indexation: 1) Content generators vs recyclers (or thieves). This is critical but hard to determine. How can Google differentiate between the original and the copies? 2) Retailers vs traffic aggregators. Which site actually sell the products vs those that simply link to other places. Seems to me that for product related searches Google and Yahoo could provide a better customer experience and help retailers as well by giving preference to content generating retailers.
ZFreud says:
"How can Google differentiate the original and the copies?" At the risk of avoiding the deeper philosophical question, Google could go a long way towards making this differentiation by simply investing in technology along the lines of what Attributor.com is building. Techcrunch had a good review here . Another step? Not simply approving the thousands and thousands of MFA sites that come online everyday. Why not have some basic and sound guidelines instead of hiding behind the cloak of free speech?
Jason says:
I wouldn't say they are created to ripoff webmasters. While many do disguise their ads as nav links I see many many legit sites following Google's guidelines to blend ads and they can be much more misleading. On one content network campaign I went through and blocked all the "junk sites" only to watch my conversions crumble. Once reinstated my conversions were back. Theory being, most people realize the site is crap and finally get what they want. The real issue is stealing peoples content and junking up the search engines. Which is the only reason I don't have scraper sites of my own. I just wouldn't feel comfortable, but I definately wouldn't feel that I was hurting the advertiser any more than following Google's own publisher's guidelines.

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